“Our greatest challenge is never the one we think we’re facing – it’s always in the way we’re facing it.”
Last December I was involved in an email conversation with a well-known writer that left a lasting impression. The bulk of our conversation revolved around “climate apocalypse” and death. While “death” has been a steady presence in my life, it wasn’t until the dramatic death of my mother in 2010 that it became a regular companion to my everyday consciousness. Death has since become my greatest impetus for living a meaningful Life. It has been a sacred guide, a wise teacher and an indefatigable inspiration to make every moment count. Death is a powerful reminder for me to live fully now.
In embracing death, I embrace the fullness of Life. The greatest expression of Life being lived fully is my unwavering commitment to the reclamation of Wholeness. There is a deathless quality to this declaration of deep Connection that defies the limitations of the corporeal.
While making peace with death on a personal level is one thing, making peace with death on a mass level is an entirely different beast. As much as I aspire to live in a state of equanimity, I still feel moments of anguish when the palpable absence of birds and wildlife is too much for my Soul to bear; when the Great Dying of Life in the forests, lakes, rivers, oceans, and streams brings aching waves of sadness to my heart; when the frenetic pace of the culture of coma (a.k.a. business-as-usual) agitates me beyond my capacity to endure another moment of its madness.
Because I refuse to deny or look away, I see and feel it all. I notice the expansive fields of abandoned crops at a time when they should have long ago been put to bed. I notice the unpredictable seasons, the proliferation of mosquitoes and ticks, the absence of butterflies, garter snakes, frogs, turtles, and bees; the strange new breeding cycles of wild animals and birds, the poisonous plants, the dying trees, and the silent forests. I feel a sense of unease because deep down I know what it all means. Crops are failing. Ecosystems are dying. The biosphere is collapsing. It’s all happening so fast, and I’m unwilling to pretend that I don’t feel sad.
Despite these persistent assaults on my emotional landscape, however, I can honestly say that I’m at peace. It has taken me several years of unflinching commitment to my Self to reach a place where I feel more tranquility than anger, more contentment than grief, and more detachment than despair. The realization of death as not an ending, but rather a different dimension of evolution helps me understand the Greater Intelligence in everything. Freed from the oppressive confines of the corporeal, death becomes a gateway for a more expansive expression of Life. Internalizing this deep Truth helps me navigate the increasing lifelessness on this planet with greater acceptance.
From a strategy perspective—especially in the face of accelerating planetary collapse—death has also become a provocation for intentional, well-informed preparedness. The truth is, I have no interest in hanging around long enough to witness The Road play out in real life. (Note: if you haven’t already seen this movie, it is the most accurate portrayal of the direction I see us headed in the next few years). Instead, I will choose a peaceful exit on my timeline should the need present itself. I have great trust in my internal cues to lead the way. When life becomes existence for the sake of sustaining the corporeal from a place of fear and survival, something is very, very wrong with one’s relationship—or lack thereof—to one’s Self. This savage mode of infantile thinking will not bode well on an increasingly uninhabitable planet in an already violent world.
While I spend little time subjecting myself to any form of media anymore, there are still occasions when my curiosity gets the better of me. Recently I’ve noticed a dramatic escalation in desperate messaging on innumerable fronts. I’ve also noticed a common problem with the delivery of these messages across all platforms. It seems that those who speak to our rapidly intensifying biosphere degradation insist on using logic, reason and an endless scientific evidential trail to impress upon the masses the urgent circumstances in which we now find ourselves. It isn’t working. One needs only to look around their own neighbourhood to see that nobody cares. To make matters worse, these messages often end with some sort of delusional disclaimer that states, “IF we continue to do “X”, then “Y” will be the likely outcome in some faraway future.” I’ve yet to come across anyone with the guts to tell it like it is: that because we are a species with no connection to anything, least of all our Selves, and because we mindlessly persist in doing what we’ve always done with no intention of changing our ways, we are all going to die in the near-term. A radical declaration perhaps, and so be it. As the dictionary reads: radical—“at the root of” (especially of change or action) relating to or affecting the fundamental nature of something; far-reaching or thorough. I’m fine with that.
We tend to dance around the word “death”, ever so cautious not to inflame the habituated sensitivities and deeply ingrained fears of the masses. We have intentionally chosen avoidance of the harsh inevitable at all costs. Perhaps we refuse to speak to death directly because of the uncertainty that prevents us from circling a date on the calendar that marks, “The End”. And yet many still know that date is inching its way closer, infiltrating the dusty crevices of our distracted minds and the monotony of our day-to-day lives. It would seem that the moment to move beyond trusting reason and logic by awakening the psychic/intuitive with a notable “punch in the gut”, has arrived. This psychic gut-punch demands that the “radical and unreasonable” be spoken out loud. But that’s unlikely to ever happen. As we mindlessly dither away our lives, bickering about whether Earth changes are human-caused or not, Gaea has taken the lead. With great indifference to our indolent deliberations, Gaea just tells it like it is. As a result, we are currently facing annihilation of the very thing we have called essential to our existence; the thing that we have been taught to cherish more than all else: Life.
Can we continue to speak to biosphere collapse and “climate change” without also speaking directly to our perspective on death? Can it be that Gaea is pressing us to consider something about our Selves that we have ignored for far too long? I believe there is profound intelligence in all that we experience, including the devastation of our planet. The challenge is in accepting, allowing and letting go.
This brings me back to my discussion with the aforementioned writer at the beginning of this post. For context, I will share a few of his words that served as a provocation for my response that follows:
… I do believe all of this (climate apocalypse) is forcing the speeding of an evolution of our species … of our consciousness (spiritual and psychological) just before we go. Sort of a species life flashing before its eyes chance to evolve before we perish. While that isn’t 100% guaranteed, it does seem highly likely …. yet I always leave room and space for “but you never know” as one of my teachers reminds me …. because that leaves room for spirit and the great mystery.
Today, my understanding of the “you never know” bit is the space for our collective evolution … which I do believe is happening (despite so many who are hanging onto the dead body of previous consciousness).
To which I replied:
“It’s always so good to connect with you. I have deep respect for your passion and your work and I feel honoured to be a part of this conversation. Your words have prompted some insight that I feel compelled to share.
Regarding the “death” conversation that you’ve opened up, the truth that I carry is that the nature of the Universe is about expansion and evolution. It’s all about Life! When a species plateaus in its evolution, or in the case of humanity, is in a state of evolutionary decay, the Greater Whole of evolution is compromised. The only way to sustain the Greater Whole of evolution is to eliminate obstructions to its perpetual momentum. Therefore, extinction is an intelligent means of removing any obstacle to the ongoing evolution of Life. Beginnings and endings are the natural cycle of Life, of which humanity is not immune. After all, humans are just another species, and like all other species, they are expendable.
I used to believe that collective evolution of consciousness was a possibility. No more. My belief now is that, like all species, there is only so far one can evolve within the confines of a physical matter reality. Commitment to personal evolution can most definitely take an individual much, much further than what defines the collective, however. And I also believe there are still evolutionary limitations within each species. Perhaps there’s more possibility within a physical matter reality than I believe, but my truth—at least for now—is that this is not the case.
So to subscribe to the belief of, “but you never know” is, in my opinion, a hindrance to both personal evolution as well as the Greater Whole of evolution. I know this in myself—been there, done that. “But you never know” was a personal mantra for years and all it did was trap me in the magical thinking of hope and denial in a physical world. I now see it as the barrier that it always was to the More that exists beyond physical existence.
Conditioned humans seem to have a deeply ingrained belief that their continued existence on this planet is the holy grail; that death—especially in a global extinction unfolding—is a bad thing. I strongly disagree. I believe that not only facing our own mortality, but facing our collective extinction in the near-term is the evolutionary catalyst that truly is the holy grail. I believe that “hanging our hat” on long-shot possibilities (such as a collective evolution of consciousness) is yet another nail in the coffin of our species.
I share all of this as an expression of an internal prompting, a stream of consciousness if you will. I have learned to trust this prompting because I know that it is what I am in full expression. I am not the body. I am not the intellect. I am not the mind. I am the Universal Force itself streaming through a unique physical expression, just as we all are (whether we choose to remember this or not). With this remembrance, my humanity can no longer interfere with hopes, wishes, and dreams for a different collective outcome. Rather, it can be present with what is, even when living with the clear awareness that our species is on its way out. I’ve reached a point in my life where I accept this because I recognize the greater Intelligence in the Greater Whole of Evolution … and of Life. My humanity is no longer arrogant enough to stand in the way of what I know to be something beautiful, that is, the continuation of the Greater Whole of Evolution. Do I like that total breakdown and mass death is necessary to ensure the continuation of Life? Not at all. Do I accept it? Absolutely, because I allow myself to see it from a more expansive perspective; a perspective that defies the limitations of the finite physical world.
So for me, the “death” conversation is the only one worth having at this choice point in the timeline of our species. I don’t believe there is a collective evolution of consciousness for our species any more than I believe in the Easter bunny or Santa Claus. I believe we’ve plateaued and are rapidly rocketing down the other side of the species bell curve. I believe that if we can remember that we are not physical matter, that this is the illusion, we can speak to “death” (or rebirth as I prefer to call it—no dogma in that word) in a more enlightened way. It’s only then that we can make some progress as far as the “evolution in consciousness” conversation—beyond physical reality—is concerned.
In the end, my truth is simple: Humanity will be extinct in the near-term. Earth will heal in several million/billion years. New Life will emerge with a more expansive consciousness. Humans will soon be just another fossil in the history books of whatever Life follows. Life will go on!
A couple of nights ago I was lying in bed thinking about how everything—from climate change, the melting Arctic, CO2, methane, the rapidly dying ocean, collapsing ecosystems, nuclear war, governments, Trump and all his ilk; to celebrity culture, technology, consumption, “stuff”, and even the desire for purpose—are all distractions from where I believe we need to direct our focus as a species. Nothing, at least to me, is more important than exploring a more expansive order of thought around what lies beyond this mortal existence. There is great evolutionary possibility in this conversation because it expands far beyond the limitations of the physical.
I’ve also noticed that as I deepen my connection to death, I feel more tender, connected and grateful for every moment of my life. I also feel more connected to the birds at our feeders, the deer and wild turkeys wandering our land, my dear companion animals, the animals I long ago chose to never consume, the trees that still breathe life, and so much more. This connection is no longer binding, however, in that it doesn’t cause me lingering grief as I watch it disappear before my eyes. I’ve let go: of the world, the planet, and my corporeal existence. Without any attachment, I now see everything through Creator eyes. It truly is a magnificent thing.”
Perhaps, given the speed, intensity and sheer magnitude of it all, biosphere collapse is a clarion call for us to re-evaluate the degree to which we place such great value on what we’ve been taught to believe is “life” while repelling all notions of death. Perhaps we need to shift our focus to the concept of death and explore how we hold it; how we fear it; and how we do everything in our power to avoid it, even in the face of knowing its inevitability. In truth, it’s not death that we fear but the possibility of terror and pain that precedes it. I believe the potential truth we seem most resistant to is that death brings freedom from one layer of expression and opens a gateway to another.